Farmers gathered in Sydney raised concerns about the roles and responsibilities of the NSW Government’s Local Land Services agency and the declining levels of associated funding.
NSW Farmers’ President Fiona Simson said: “Farmers have continually raised their concerns about funding cuts to their agency which has prime responsibility for bringing together agricultural production advice, biosecurity, natural resource management and emergency management issues.”
“Local Land Services is responsible for a huge portfolio of issues and ratepayers are keen to see their new agency deliver on all its obligations. However, they recognise the agency is hampered by its broad remit while at the same time facing increasing budgetary pressures,” she said.
At NSW Farmers’ Annual Conference 2014 at Luna Park in Sydney farmers called for Local Land Services not to be involved with regulation and compliance of native vegetation legislation.
Ms Simson said that by being involved with native vegetation enforcement, Local Land Service officers were potentially placed in a situation of conflict of interest.
“This conflict is not only in terms of whether or not they should be acting as a regulator,” she said.
Ms Simson said that farmers instead were calling for Local Land Services to make the eradication of wild pigs a state priority.
“Biosecurity is a major concern with pig numbers increasing and their eradication requiring different methods to that of wild dogs.
“Farmers have said today that they believe Local Land Services is ideally placed to help them in eradicating pest vertebrates which can have devastating impacts on farm productivity,” she concluded.
Meanwhile,A right to farm needs to be enshrined in planning legislation to promote the sustainable development of our food and fibre producing regions, NSW Farmers’ Association members have agreed at their annual conference.
The motion, which originated from the Orange District Council, will inform the NSW Farmers’ planning policy to specifically push for a right to farm.
Chair of the association’s Conservation and Resource Management Committee Mitchell Clapham said he was pleased to see the motion passed on the floor of the association’s annual conference.
“The right to farm is a concept enshrined in other jurisdictions such as most of the provinces of Canada. It is an explicit legal construct which allows farmers to continue farming where appropriate,” he said.
“At present farmers are fighting a losing battle to retain their rights to earn a living from land which borders regional cities and towns in NSW as these centres expand onto agricultural land.
“This is particularly evident as the demand for lifestyle blocks continues as people moving to these blocks usually do not understand that farmers may sometimes need to work unusual hours to take advantage of weather conditions, for example.
“Naturally, any legislation of this kind must also be considered with the need for farmers to adhere to the many environmental regulations such as the Environmental Protection Authority’s chemical spray drift requirements.
“A right to farm would make farming operations immune from specific nuisance complaints arising from those who move to an area close to a farming operation. The reality of farming is that sometimes it’s smelly, sometimes it’s noisy, but farmers’ hard work to produce food and fibre should be supported and not restricted by our planning laws.” Mr Clapham concluded.
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